Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rigatoni with Mushrooms and Spinach - serves 4 with leftovers

I had a dinner party I catered over the weekend and ended up with extra bechamel sauce. Now, don't get all in a tizzy thinking that you're not going to make this if it has bechamel sauce in it.  It's actually quite easy to make and doesn't take any time at all.  It's a great substitute for cream sauce and half the fat.

This dish can be made with penne pasta if you'd like.  Funny thing about penne.... when we were in Italy it was explained to our group (to those of us who had not had appropriate Italian etiquette) that Americans pronounce "penne" incorrectly.  The way we say it (and once you know this, watching cooking channels will never be the same) we are calling it the (I won't use the correct word but, ) the part of the male anatomy women don't have.  You get my gist.  Rather comical when you think about it.  The correct pronunciation is accentuating the "pen" and a short "ne".  So, next time you grab a box, think of what you're getting.  I was told an abundance of times not to say it the wrong way.  Think of going to the market and asking for male parts.  Really?   I actually enjoyed embarrassing my "knows more about Italy" friend (and she does) as well as any Italian I could order penne from.  Think of the fun.

Moving on.... this is a quick dish using two of my favorite veggies, mushrooms and spinach.  I great marriage of ingredients that includes a simple anatomy to a great meal.


1 pd Rigatoni
12 oz spinach
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup bechamel sauce (recipe to follow)
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
3 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Boil rigatoni according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, heat large enameled skillet on medium heat.  Add about 4 tbs olive oil.  Once shimmering, add mushrooms.  Saute about 6 minutes.  Add wine and simmer until wine has almost evaporated.  Add spinach, in batches, and stir until wilted, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat.  Drain pasta and return to the pot you boiled it in.  Add olive oil to coat and mushroom mixture.  Add bechamel sauce and toss to coat, mixing well.  Serve in pasta bowls and dig in.

Bechamel Sauce with Parmesan Cheese

1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1 cup milk
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinsh of Kosher salt

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk constantly until mixture turns a light sandy brown, about 5 minutes.  Add milk, gradually, whisking constantly for about 6 minutes or until slightly thick.  Add parmesan and stir until thickened.  Add nutmeg and salt, stirring to incorporate.

(Can be made in advance, refrigerated, then reheated s-l-o-w-l-y.)

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